Small droplets of sweat rolled down the back of each soldier and airman standing in formation Monday morning, September 30, 2015, at Fort Christina in Wilmington. It was hot and miserable as politicians and VIPs clad in suits oozed sweat through the layers of fabric.
And there was something fitting in it all, as two company-sized formations dressed in combat camouflage stood in column and helped celebrate the Delaware National Guard’s 360th anniversary on the spot where the Swede’s faced off against the Dutch for control of the of the Christiana River.
And even though the Dutch carried the day in 1655, Major General Francis D. Vavala,
Adjutant General, Delaware National Guard, reminded everyone Monday that the more important event was the establishing of the militia, which has been in force since then and today is known as the Delaware National Guard.
“What is noteworthy,” Gen. Vavala said, “is that the Militia in Delaware Continued.”
Even so, weather it seems is the universal constant in any military organization’s history. Operations always seem to occur in the most miserable conditions; rain provides concealment to the attacker, cold limits mobility favoring the defender, and heat wears out people and equipment.
It’s especially so for the National Guard because they don’t just deploy for operations half a world away, but are the first place governors look to for help when natural disaster in a state get out of hand. The Delaware National Guard has deployed domestically in times of flood, forest fire, and blizzard, Gen. Vavala reminded everyone as the sun beat down and the enclosed parade field sweltered.
According to an old axiom, “It doesn’t rain in the Army, it rains on the Army.” And so it goes.
The airmen and soldiers – while at ‘parade rest’ – imperceptibly moved their right leg, then their left to ensure blood was flowing and avoid passing out – some old soldier tricks never die, they get passed on. Still the heat blazed and humidity drenched through clothes.
Like I said, a hot sticky day seemed an appropriate stage to celebrate a 360 year military lineage
While the Delaware National Guard was undoubtedly the star of the day, Gov. Jack Markell unveiled another when, surrounded by legislators from the Delaware House and Senate, he signed a proclamation declaring September “Hire a Veteran Month.”
So amid the blasting of cannons, 21-gun salutes, and cutting of birthday cakes on this hot steamy day, service members looked on at what may be the most significant testimonial – an acknowledgement that hiring veterans provides business a competitive advantage and that ultimately ensures 360 more years of readiness.